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What Does PAC After a Doctor's Name Mean?


When you see a doctor's name followed by the letters PAC, you may wonder what they mean. PAC stands for Physician Assistant-Certified, which is a professional designation for a healthcare provider who works under the supervision of a licensed physician. In this article, we will explore the role of physician assistants in the medical profession and what it takes to become one.

What is a Physician Assistant?

A physician assistant (PA) is a medical professional who is trained to provide diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive healthcare services under the supervision of a licensed physician. PAs work in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices. They are trained to perform many of the same tasks as physicians, such as taking medical histories, performing physical exams, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and prescribing medications.

What Does the PAC Designation Mean?

The PAC designation indicates that a physician assistant has completed an accredited educational program and has passed a national certification exam. In order to become a PAC, a candidate must first complete a bachelor's degree in a healthcare-related field, such as nursing or biology. They must then complete a master's degree program in physician assistant studies, which typically takes two years to complete. After completing their education, they must pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which is administered by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA).

What is the Role of a Physician Assistant?

Physician assistants work under the supervision of a licensed physician, but they are able to perform many of the same tasks as physicians. They are trained to provide a wide range of healthcare services, including:

Diagnosing and Treating Illnesses

PAs are trained to diagnose and treat a variety of illnesses and medical conditions. They are able to order and interpret diagnostic tests, such as X-rays and blood tests, and they can prescribe medications to treat illnesses.

Performing Physical Exams

PAs are trained to perform physical exams, which involve checking a patient's vital signs, such as their blood pressure and heart rate, and examining their body for signs of illness or injury.

Assisting in Surgery

PAs are often involved in surgical procedures, where they assist the surgeon by performing tasks such as suturing incisions and monitoring the patient's vital signs.

Providing Preventive Care

PAs are trained to provide preventive care, such as administering vaccinations and performing cancer screenings. They also provide education to patients on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and prevent illness.

Working with Patients

PAs work closely with patients to provide care and support. They take medical histories, answer questions, and provide education on medical conditions and treatments. They also provide emotional support to patients and their families.


In conclusion, the PAC designation after a doctor's name indicates that they are a certified physician assistant. PAs play an important role in the healthcare system by providing a wide range of healthcare services under the supervision of a licensed physician. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a physician assistant, you will need to complete a rigorous educational program and pass a national certification exam. With hard work and dedication, you can join the ranks of healthcare professionals who are making a difference in the lives of patients every day.